Habitat & Cultivation : Uva-ursi, native to Europe and naturalized across the northern hemisphere, extending up to the Arctic, thrives in moist environments within undergrowth, heathland, and grassland. Harvesting of its leaves typically occurs during the autumn season.
Parts Used : Leaves, berries.
Constituents : Uva-ursi leaves are rich in hydroquinones, primarily arbutin, comprising up to 17%, as well as tannins (up to 15%), phenolic glycosides, and flavonoids. The presence of arbutin and other hydroquinones imparts an antiseptic effect in the urinary tract.
History & Folklore : In Latin, the name uva-ursi translates to “bear’s grape.” This nomenclature stems from the fact that bears are known to have an affinity for the fruit of this plant. The earliest documentation of uva-ursi can be traced back to “The Physicians of Myddfai,” a 13th-century Welsh herbal.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Uva-ursi stands out as a highly effective natural urinary antiseptic, widely utilized in herbal medicine to disinfect and astringe the urinary tract in both acute and chronic cases of cystitis and urethritis. It is important to note that while beneficial for these conditions, uva-ursi is not recommended as a remedy in cases where there is a concurrent infection of the kidneys.
Research : Studies indicate that extracts from uva-ursi exhibit antibacterial properties, with this effect believed to be more pronounced in alkaline urine. Consequently, the effectiveness of uva-ursi is anticipated to be higher when taken in conjunction with a diet rich in vegetables.
Cautions : Do not take during pregnancy or with kidney disease. Unsuitable for children under 12. It is generally advisable to take uva-ursi for no more than 7-10 days at a time.